Volume 522, November 2010
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Published online||03 November 2010|
13CO 1–0 imaging of the Medusa merger, NGC 4194
Large scale variations in molecular cloud properties
Department of Earth and Space SciencesChalmers University of Technology,
2 Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, School of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
3 University of Bochum, Department of Astronomy, 44780 Bochum, Germany
Accepted: 13 July 2010
Aims. Studying molecular gas properties in merging galaxies gives important clues to the onset and evolution of interaction-triggered starbursts. The line intensity ratio can be used as a tracer of how dynamics and star formation processes impact the gas properties. The Medusa merger (NGC 4194) is particularly interesting to study since its ratio rivals that of ultraluminous galaxies (ULIRGs), despite the comparatively modest luminosity, indicating an exceptionally high star formation efficiency (SFE) in the Medusa merger.
Methods. High resolution OVRO (Owens Valley Radio Observatory) observations of the 13CO 1–0 have been obtained and compared with matched resolution OVRO 12CO 1–0 data to investigate the molecular gas cloud properties in the Medusa merger.
Results. Interferometric observations of 12CO and 13CO 1–0 in the Medusa (NGC 4194) merger show the 1–0 intensity ratio (ℛ) increases from normal, quiescent values (7–10) in the outer parts (r > 2 kpc) of the galaxy to high (16 to >40) values in the central (r < 1 kpc) starburst region. In the central two kpc there is an east-west gradient in ℛ where the line ratio changes by more than a factor of three over 5'' (945 pc). The integrated 13CO emission peaks in the north-western starburst region while the central 12CO emission is strongly associated with the prominent crossing dust-lane.
Conclusions. We discuss the central east-west gradient in ℛ in the context of gas properties in the starburst and the central dust lane. We suggest that the central gradient in ℛ is mainly caused by diffuse gas in the dust lane. In this scenario, the actual molecular mass distribution is better traced by the 13CO 1–0 emission than the 12CO. The possibilities of temperature and abundance gradients are also discussed. We compare the central gas properties of the Medusa to those of other minor mergers and suggest that the extreme and transient phase of the Medusa star formation activity has similar traits to those of high-redshift galaxies.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: individual: NGC 4194 / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: active / radio lines: ISM / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2010
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